Pyrotechnical Terms

Aerial Firework

A device that functions in the air, such as a shell, roman candle, rocket, or repeater

Air Launching

A method of launching aerial shells that uses compressed air rather than a black powder lift charge. Shells are placed into a rotating turret that rotates each tube into a firing position over an air valve. The resulting blast of air propels the shell into the sky. Timed computer chips built in to the shell will trigger the burst charge at the correct altitude.


Also known as a family pack or blister pack. A variety of fireworks sold in a box.  Comes in all different sizes, and usually includes aerial repeaters, fountains, spinners, rockets, and firecrackers.


Any group of fireworks fused together as one unit so that they will ignite all at once or emitting a variety of colours/effects in a short period of time, such as a barrage.


An exothermic oxidation/reduction reaction. Fireworks typically use oxygen-rich salts such as perchlorates, chlorates, or nitrates to rapidly oxidize fuels such as metals, gums, sulfur, or charcoal.


The release of effects into the air by an aerial device

Burst Charge

A composition placed inside of aerial shells which explodes at the shell’s maximum altitude, which bursts apart the casing and ignites/propels the effects all over the sky. Commonly made of black powder (sometimes with whistle mix), but can also be made with potassium chlorate.


A tube containing pyrotechnic composition.


Short term for firecracker

Consumer Fireworks

Fireworks for public or recreational use.


A burst pattern similar to a peony, but with larger and fewer stars.


A pyrotechnic composition that is used for timing between the ignition of firework elements, such as in a roman candle.

Display Fireworks

Fireworks for professional use.


A firework that fails to ignite.


Not to be confused with firecracklers (designed to spin and crackle on the ground) a firecracker is a small rolled paper tube containing flash powder, typically braided by their fuses into long strings. When the fuse is lit, the flame travels to the inside of the firecracker and ignites the powder, causing it to explode.


A device that functions by combustion to create visible and audible effects for the purpose of entertainment.


Device used to transfer fire to a firework, or different parts of a firework


A spinning horizontal wheel that lifts off and flies up into the sky, where it usually ends with a report or burst of stars and effects.

Ground Firework

A consumer firework that functions at ground level, such as fountains, novelties, snaps, snakes, sparklers, and smoke items

Ground Spinner

A small tube filled with pyrotechnic composition and plugged at both ends, with an angles hole in the side. Upon ignition, the device spins around very rapidly.

Lift Charge

Charge beneath a shell (usually attached to the bottom of it), consisting of black powder used to propel the device into the sky.

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)

Canadian federal government Ministry responsible for the administration of the Explosives Act.

Nosing Paper

Thin paper wrapped around and extending off of the nozzle of a pyrotechnic device, used to hold the fuse in place and prevent sparks from prematurely igniting the device.


A small firework shaped like a animal, vehicle, or structure.  Novelties emit small sprays of sparks, crackle, and whistle, and often move around on little wheels.


From the Greek word for “fire”, used by itself as nickname for a fireworks enthusiast.


Someone who builds or shoots fireworks.

Quick Match

Extremely rapid-burning fuse used to ignite multiple fireworks at virtually the same instant.

Ramming Rod

A rod made of non-sparking material (wood, brass, or aluminum) used to compress pyrotechnic compositions within a tube, for example, to make fountains.

Roman Candle

A tube less than 12 mm I.D. (Inside Diameter) that shoots a series of single stars into the air.


A wire-coated in a pyrotechnic composition that gives off sparks while burning.


a Device that spins rapidly using drivers, emitting sparks, whistles, and other effects.


A tube that spins in the air giving off showers of sparks.